Galoya National Park
This wildlife reserve is so unpopular, even the most Sri Lankan scratching their heads and think of where about this national park is if someone asks the direction for this national park. Even though it has a large number of animals occurring throughout the year, especially the will elephants the park is one of the least visited national parks in Sri Lanka. This national park is situated in the remote area of Ampara in the Monaragala district. Ampara is not a popular tourist gathering area in Sri Lanka and therefore it is not included as a place of visit in most Sri Lanka road trips, therefore most tourists are making on their way to Ampara. And also tourists do not tend to make a special visit to Amapara due to the Galoya national park because there are a large number of alternative places such as Yala national park, Udawalawe national park, Wilpattu that are more convenient to reach during their Sri Lanka tour.
Gal Oya national park is originated as a result of one of the biggest development projects (Galoya development project) of the post-independent Sri Lanka. The national park was established in the early 1950’s as a patch of forest in the developed area, which exceeds 100,000 hectares, to accommodate the wild animals that lost their living habitats.
Gal Oya national park covers more than 25,000 hectares of land in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. Another important function of the national park is the protection of the catchment area of Senanayake Samudra. Senanayake Samudra is a massive reservoir built after damming Gal Oya River. Water collected at Senanayake Samudra was utilized to convert large tracts of forested area to farmland. 162,000 hectares of new farmlands came to being as a result of Senanayake Samudra. Today the reservoir is functioning as a separate sanctuary in parallel to nearby Gal Oya national park.
Visitors to Gal Oya national park have the opportunity to see some stunning scenic pictures while enjoying the wildlife at Gal Oya national park. The main contributor to the beautiful surrounding of Gal Oya national park is Senanayake Samudra; it is surrounded by rugged terrain dominated by mountains and evergreen dry-zone forest.
The road that leads to the national park is flanked by Senanayake Samudra and trees and bushes of the dry-zone forest. This remote national park is nestled among some beautiful countryside, reservoirs, mountains and villages.
Other than the jeep ride through the national park, a boat ride in the Senanayake Samudra is also very useful to spot wild animals in the area. The boaters have plenty of opportunities to see a large array of animals and birds in the surrounding area of the reservoir. The sight of big herds of elephants at the edge of the reservoir is a very common sight here, especially at the evening hours. Gal Oya national park and surrounding area of Senanayake Samudra is a heaven for bird lovers. It is one of the best places to see a large number of aquatic avian fauna species. Senanayake Samudra was the venue for a documentary film on the white-bellied-sea eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster), done by world-renowned German filmmaker Dieter Plage.
Several most common bird species are spot-billed pelicans (Pelicanus philippensis), grey headed eagle (Lchthyophaga ichthyaetus), brahmuny kites (Haliaster indus indus), osprey (Pandion hadiatus ). Malabar hornbill and grey horn bill are also frequent visitors of Senanayake Samudra, but they are residing deeper in the woods. This is the last remaining breeding ground of a rare bird species known as brown-capped babbler (Pellorneum fuscocapillum). It lays 2-3 eggs at a time in a nest built on the ground or small hole. Among the endemic bird species red-faced malkoha (pahaenicophaeus pyrhocephalus) and Sri Lanka spurfowl (Galloperdix biclcarata) are the most occurring here. Both species are living in the thick jungle and heard more often than seen.
Other than the wide choice for observing different species of birds, it allows you to see many species of other animals. Gal Oya national park is one of the best places to spot sloth bear (Melurus ursulis) due to the undisturbed environment. This animal loves to have the peaceful and tranquil environment. Sri Lankan leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya), Axis deer (Axis axis), sambhur (Cervus unicolour), barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak) and elephant are the most common animals in Gal Oya national park.